Involvement of 14-3-3 protein GRF9 in root growth and response under polyethylene glycol-induced water stress

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Plant 14-3-3 proteins are phosphoserine-binding proteins that regulate a wide array of targets via direct protein–protein interactions. In this study, the role of a 14-3-3 protein, GRF9, in plant response to water stress was investigated. Arabidopsis wild-type, GRF9-deficient mutant (grf9), and GRF9-overexpressing (OE) plants were treated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) to induce mild water stress. OE plant showed better whole-plant growth and root growth than the wild type under normal or water stress conditions while the grf9 mutant showed worse growth. In OE plants, GRF9 favours the allocation of shoot carbon to roots. In addition, GRF9 enhanced proton extrusion, mainly in the root elongation zone and root hair zone, and maintained root growth under mild water stress. Grafting among the wild type, OE, and grf9 plants showed that when OE plants were used as the scion and GRF9 was overexpressed in the shoot, it enhanced sucrose transport into the root, and when OE plants were used as rootstock and GRF9 was overexpressed in the root, it caused more release of protons into the root surface under water stress. Taken together, the results suggest that under PEG-induced water stress, GRF9 is involved in allocating more carbon from the shoot to the root and enhancing proton secretion in the root growing zone, and this process is important for root response to mild water stress.

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